Tim Alderslade and Dale Keller: Chance for Scots to lead in air

Edinburgh Airport. Picture: Contributed
Edinburgh Airport. Picture: Contributed
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Good time to cut cut Air Passenger Duty, say Tim Alderslade and Dale Keller

Airlines stand ready to play a crucial role in helping to safeguard Scotland’s prosperity following the UK’s vote to leave the EU.

UK and international airlines that have operations in Scotland already make a substantial economic contribution and could do even more if the Scottish Government goes ahead with its plan to cut Air Passenger Duty (APD).

A 50 per cent cut in APD rates in Scotland would catapult the country up 38 places in the global competitiveness league for air taxation, giving it a huge competitive advantage and leaving England and Wales with the most uncompetitive tax of its type in the world. The uncertain environment created by Brexit makes this planned cut more important than ever.

An important achievement of the EU has been the creation of a single market for aviation, which led to new routes to and from Scottish airports, lower prices and greater choice. Our airlines want to see Scotland continuing to prosper from the jobs and growth generated by an increase in air travel.

So we will be pressing the UK government to recognise the special status that aviation has on our island nation and to prioritise aviation-related negotiations during the EU withdrawal process. One way could be to join the European Common Aviation Area, which already extends EU aviation liberalisation to Norway and Switzerland, and currently covers a total of 36 countries.

That will take time. Meanwhile, the lack of certainty creates a risk that some airlines may see the UK as a less attractive destination.

In this period of uncertainty, Scotland has an opportunity to send a signal to the world that it is a more attractive place than ever to both visit and do business. That is why we will be urging the Scottish Government and MSPs from all parties to push ahead with the cut as soon as possible.

• Tim Alderslade is Chief Executive of BATA, the association for UK-registered airlines, and Dale Keller is Chief Executive of BAR-UK, the association of scheduled airlines operating to the UK